Why Hill of Crosses (Lithuania) is so unique?

If you are looking for a unique and inspiring destination in Lithuania, you might want to visit the Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai. This is a hill covered with thousands of wooden and metal crosses, statues, rosaries, and other religious symbols that have been brought here by pilgrims for centuries. The Hill of Crosses is not only a site of pilgrimage, but also a symbol of the Lithuanian people’s faith, identity, and resistance.

The origin of the Hill of Crosses is not clear, but some believe that it started after the 1831 Uprising against the Russian Empire, when families of the fallen rebels could not bury them properly and placed crosses on the hill instead. The tradition continued after another uprising in 1863, and some also claim that the hill was blessed by a vision of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.

The Hill of Crosses faced many challenges during the Soviet occupation, when religion was banned and the site was repeatedly destroyed by the authorities. However, each time the crosses were removed, the locals secretly brought them back at night, risking their lives and freedom. The hill became a sign of defiance and hope for the Lithuanian people, who never gave up their religious and national identity.

After Lithuania regained its independence in 1991, the Hill of Crosses became a popular tourist attraction and a place of worship. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the hill and celebrated a mass there, calling it a place of „peace, love, and sacrifice”. Today, no one owns or controls the hill, and anyone can bring a cross or a symbol of their faith to add to the collection. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but some estimates put it at over 100,000.

The Hill of Crosses is a remarkable example of how a simple gesture can become a powerful expression of culture and spirituality. If you visit this place, you will be amazed by the variety and beauty of the crosses, and by the stories and emotions behind them. You will also learn more about the history and struggles of Lithuania, and how its people preserved their values and traditions through difficult times.

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